From Goose Island:
"Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years."
This years Bourbon County Coffee was brewed with La Tortuga beans from Intelligentsia which they say has Tangy tangerine acidity with prominent notes of tamarind, wild honey and orange sherbert. I am not a big coffee enthusiast like I am when it comes to craft beer but I think this will be more than a welcome addition to the chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla forward beer.
Bourbon County Coffee pours out a really dark brown verging on black. Once in the glass it is black as night with no light showing on the edges and there was barely any head to speak of which is what I have come to expect from this 14% barrel aged imperial stout. While there is no head, it definitely does leave a nice brown film on the glass when it is swirled and the beer hits the sides of the glass. I love regular BCBS and I loved last years Bourbon County Coffee Stout so let's see how this one goes!
Right upfront I get a chocolate covered coffee been. Actually, more like a chocolate covered coffee bean that was dropped into a glass of bourbon and let sit. Definitely some vanilla in there as well and a bit of caramel that provides a really nice sweetness which differs from the chocolatey sweetness on the forefront. I also seem to get a bit of a fruity character in there as well. I am trying to decide if it is a dark fruit type aroma or something closer to a chocolate covered orange sweetness. I might be reaching with that statement because of what I know about the coffee bean itself whatever it is it definitely adds another level of complexity to the beer.
I haven't actually had coffee from the La Tortuga coffee bean but the coffee is very prominent on the palate but there is also a sweetness that I am not used to in regular Bourbon County Stout. I definitely think that some of the characteristics from the bean itself show its face in the beer along with the big chocolate and vanilla note as well as a punch of bourbon that I have come to recognize in this beer. The roast from the coffee seems to balance out with the sweetness of the beer perfectly and leads into a nice roasted chocolate finish. Great, great stuff. As I drink more of this I get more of the coffee on the palate than I do vanilla which a big difference from the regular version of this beer. There are a lot of flavors going on in this beer but the coffee really takes the front seat and the others seem to just highlight everything about it. My lips definitely feel a bit sticky after the finish and my palate has a lingering note from the oak barrels as well as the spirit that was inside of it. For such a big beer this is as balanced as it could be and it is delicious and the coffee adds a whole new dimension to the beer that I didn't remember from the version I had last year.
Seriously a great beer from Goose Island but with its reputation with barrel aged beers I am far from surprised and I expect this type of quality from them. There is not much more I can say about this beer other than the flavors are in your face and begs for your to take another sip. The booze is definitely noticeable but it just adds to the overall experience and doesn't take the front seat like some other high alcohol content beers. A real experience and something every beer geek needs to have....every year. Great stuff, Goose Island!
Cheers ladies and gentlemen!